Rowan County joining veteran fellowship

Published 12:04 am Friday, November 10, 2023

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Board of Commissioners voted to move forward with joining a veterans fellowship during their Monday meeting. The fellowship allows service members who wish to transition into administration positions in local government to shadow and learn from people who hold those jobs already.

Joining the fellowship would allow the county to place an active service member into whichever department the member was interested in. County Manager Aaron Church said that the salaries of the service member would be paid for by the U.S. Department of Defense.

“This is generally for veterans who are getting ready to retire and go out of the service, and they’re looking for a transition to civilian life and an occupation. This provides an opportunity for them to serve in different avenues and in this particular case in local government,” said Church.

The idea to join the fellowship came while talking to another county manager at an International City/County Manager Association meeting, Church said. That other manager had participated in the program and Church said that he had nothing but “high remarks” to say about the fellowship.

Church said that Rowan County would be more likely to receive a member of the fellowship if they provided housing for anyone who wished to come. To that end, he proposed renovating and repurposing the county-owned house beside Dan Nicholas Park and offering it for free. The county would not charge rent and would pay for any utility bills. Currently, the county rents the house out to private tenants, but Church said that they already planned to end any rentals in 2024.

Don Bringle, director of parks and recreation for the county, said that the building is already outfitted with appliances as well as a new heating and air system that was put in two years ago.

Commissioner Craig Pierce asked Church logistical questions about whether the home was viable for the program. He worried about whether a veteran with a family would be able to stay in the house or if the county could host two fellows with only one home.

Church said that the house is a three-bedroom, two-bath home, so a veteran who wishes to bring their family would have the space to do so. As for hosting multiple fellows, Church said the current plan was to only host one service member at a time.

At the end of the discussion, the commissioners voted unanimously to allow Church to move forward with joining the fellowship and renovating the house to that end.